Date: March 26, 2021
(By Lisa Garrett)
Amanda Blanton Retires from Tri-County with Lots of Great Memories
PENDLETON --- She has changed the lives of thousands of students in our service area and the ripple effect is immense.
Those were the words spoken by Jenni Creamer, assistant vice president for college transitions at Tri-County Technical College, at a farewell reception for Amanda Blanton, who will retire April 2 after 23 years at the College.
Over the years Blanton has become the face of Tri-County for the College’s K-12 partners in her various roles, most recently as director of high school engagement and outreach.
TCTC President Galen DeHay recognized Blanton’s leadership skills, dedication and drive to make a difference and provide a transformative experience for every student.
“She has worked in so many capacities,” said Dr. DeHay. “It will be impossible to replace her and her heart for service.”
For the last eight years Blanton’s tireless work with public school officials and industry leaders led to the development of a unique technical career pathways pilot program that was so successful the College was able to garner funding through a state proviso to support full-scale implementation across seven school districts.
She directed the Technical Career Pathways (TCP) program whose goal is to develop a pipeline of individuals who are skilled and ready to fill in-demand jobs at manufacturing facilities across the Upstate.
Workforce development is just one of the many advantages of the program that since its inception in 2013 has provided high school juniors and seniors with a clear path to a debt-free education that prepares them for careers in manufacturing.
The program began with seven students from Crescent High School and to date, more than 700 have participated in a pathway. “We’ve come a long way,” said Blanton
Eighty-four percent of those who successfully completed their pathway in high school have entered Tri-County to complete an associate degree in the following majors: CNC Programming, General Engineering Technology, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, Industrial Electronics, Mechatronics and Welding.
There is no cost to high school dual enrollment students enrolled in a Technical Career Pathway – the program is state funded. After high school graduation, students may receive Lottery Tuition Assistance, LIFE scholarships, SCWins, or other financial aid, and most graduate debt free with an associate degree within one year of high school graduation.
Many double major, gaining more skills and making themselves even more marketable.
“Tri-County and our educational partners help us educate the community about in-demand career options. Our partners are important because it takes all of us to deliver the message to our students and parents about career options and how important the jobs are in our community now,” said Blanton.
In every role she has had at the College, her desire has been to see every student experience the benefits of higher education and the high-demand, high-wage careers that follow.
For eight years she served as director of collaboration and special projects. She spearheaded the development of a highly-structured pilot program that included four hours of Technical Advanced Placement credit based on competencies earned in high school level electricity courses, along with 16 college credit hours students could earn as dually-enrolled seniors in Electronics classes on the College campus. The program would allow them to earn two credentials by the end of their senior year -- a high school diploma and a TCTC Basic Electronics Certificate. If they chose to go directly into the workforce, they would have a marketable credential and be well positioned to continue their education at a later date.
In 2008 she was named dean of enrollment management for the Student Affairs Division and directed the admissions, financial aid and records offices, along with the Education and Economic Development Act objectives, dual enrollment and the Bridge to Clemson program.
She also manages the Partnership for Academic and Career Education (PACE) Board, whose goal is to Identify, create, and articulate seamless career pathways from K-12 to post-secondary to business and industry. Members include Tri-County Technical College, seven school superintendents, a career center director, Clemson University, AOP business education partnerships and economic development directors, business/industry representatives, and WorkLink. This group also integrates the work of the Regional Education Center (REC) to ensure consistency in message and programs.
Blanton joined the College in 1998 as a career specialist and later became interim director of the PACE Consortium. She is a graduate of Leadership Anderson and Leadership Pickens and is a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator. In 2015 and 2016 she was the College’s nominee for the A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year award. She completed the South Carolina Technical College System’s Leadership Academy in 2007.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Clemson University. She and her husband, Rex, have one son, Brightin, a graduate student at the University of Mississippi. They live in Seneca.
About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit tctc.edu.